I’m finding the journey between the second and third movies, via the novels, to be a long one. Not because it’s boring. Not by a long stretch. But because it actually is a long one. Fifteen full novels and 11 novellas. And that’s just what I’m reading, as there are some comic book spinoffs, etc, that I don’t have.
The Clone Wars: No Prisoners
The story is about Torrent Company (Captain Rex, et al) and Ahsoka going to rescue a captured spy while Anakin Skywalker sneaks a few days with his secret wife Padme. But the real reason for this novel is to explore that love and the inner turmoil that Anakin is feeling. Why are the Jedi against love? Love is an asset, not a liability. It creates passion, which can be both good and bad, but the good outweighs the bad. Or so thinks Anakin. His resentment of the Jedi order for this ‘rule’ is furthered when he is called back into duty because Ahsoka and Captain Rex may be in trouble. But upon arriving at the faraway planet, he meets an offshoot of the Jedi. These Jedi, led by Jedi Master Djinn Altis, are all married (or were married at some point). They don’t follow the Jedi anti-love ideology, but respect the Jedi Council’s rules by keeping to themselves on the outskirts of the Republic. But of course Anakin sees this and becomes more confused. And more questioning of the Jedi. A great angle to further build up his slow descent to the Dark Side. And the novel had enough action to satisfy on that front too. Well worth the read.
Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth and Clone Wars Gambit: Seige
In this two-novel set, Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi pose as natives on the planet of Lanteeb in order to confirm suspicions that the Separatists are close to creating a bioweapon. They confirm that it is indeed the case, but are very nearly killed when they are discovered. They wind up in a mining village several days of travel from the city (and the bioweapon plant) and end up saving the village. Granted, droids attacked the village because of them, but the villagers were mining materials for the bioweapon – unbeknownst to them – and their eventual death was inevitable anyway. After all, the raw materials would have eventually done the trick. Anyway, a great pair of books with lots of action and more displays of Anakin’s power and brilliance. I do, however, tire of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s fighting. They argue for the sake of arguing. I know that Karen Miller (the author) is trying to continue the growth of the Dark Side in Anakin and show both the love and the friction between the two Jedi, but it was a little much here (actually, it’s a little much in all the books).
Republic Commando: True Colors
This one was long on ideology and short on action. As a stand-alone book, I would not recommend it. Yes, it was well written and yes the characters are well loved and interesting thanks to the prior two novels, but as a stand-alone it may not make sense. But this book, in the grand scheme of things, asks and answers some important questions. Important in the sense of the ‘believability’ of the Star Wars universe. You watched the movies and may have wondered about things like ethics. How could the Jedi fight slavery in one book, yet agree to clones fighting their wars? Or how does Darth Sidious order the clones to turn on the Jedi…and they obey?
You see, the clones have no rights. They were ‘hatched’ from a tank, bred to fight, they fight the war they are told to fight, and then they die. And Jedi agreed to this? This novel takes you deep and explores questions like that one. Or here’s another – do clones ever decide to quit the war? They each have personalities, it only makes sense that some would want to desert. Or plan for retirement. What about if a clone gets a woman pregnant? The books have touched on that before, but this one takes it further. Another big question this one asks and answers – clones mature at twice the rate of humans. What can they do about that? The clones from Omega and Delta squads, and the Null commandos, are back and they hunt down Ko Sai, the Kaminoan geneticist who created the clones. And when they catch her, they try to get her to reverse the fast-aging process. In the meantime, Sargeant Kal Skirata (like a father to Omega, Delta, Nulls) starts laying the groundwork to get all his ‘sons’ out of the army and out of the war that they didn’t volunteer for.
Med-Star I: Battle Surgeons
Med-Star II: Jedi Healer
In a word – disappointed. The first book had little in the way of a plot or purpose and only the presence of a second book does the first one become semi-useful. It revolves around a surgical team on a planet that’s value lies in it’s production of a plant that is a powerful and very helpful drug. The Seps and the Republic are fighting over this otherwise insignificant planet and of course that means that clones get injured. So Jos Vondar (head surgeon), Tolk le Trene (head nurse) and others are overworked and underappreciated. Another character, a Sullustran (like Nien Numb) named Den Dhur, is an interesting guy – a smart, friendly reporter who is well respected – isn’t enough to save this storyline. I thought that perhaps things would get interested when Barriss Offee – the Jedi Padawan who teamed up with Anakin and Obi-Wan in “Approaching Storm“, joined the cast. But no.
Business did finally pick up about halfway through the first book when I-Five joined the cast. He was the rusty C3PO-looking droid from the book Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter. He is very lifelike in terms of personality, but he was still trying to piece together what happened to him since that book. It was great getting re-acquainted with him and now that he has his memory back it will be nice to read more stories with him. At the end of the book, he and Den Dhur team up and go off together, so lots of potential there.
But enough of the good and onto the bad. This should have been one book. And it should have been two-thirds as long. The authors tended to over-write – and they did it about the wrong things. So Dhur sitting at the bar sipping on a drink would take five pages, as he thinks about something he already thought about 10 other times in the book. But a fight scene involving the death of a promising character (and elite fighter) gets a paragraph describing the video footage. The over-writing is best left for epic high fantasy (see my Malazan Book of the Fallen review) and not the lighter Star Wars series. So long story short, unless you’re doing what I’m doing and reading all Star Wars books, stay away from these two. Too long, somewhat predictable and they never really got to the point. If there was a point. Which there wasn’t. The I-Five droid’s presence wasn’t enough to make it worth your while.